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Biography: A Very Short Introduction Paperback – August 31, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0199533541 ISBN-10: 0199533547 Edition: 1st

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Biography: A Very Short Introduction + How To Do Biography: A Primer + Biography: A User's Guide
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st edition (August 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199533547
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199533541
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.5 x 4.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #482,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Biography: Questions for Consideration and Discussion

  • Do you think there can be set rules for biography?
  • What do you think are the particular challenges of writing literary biography?
  • Do you think biography should tell the whole truth?
  • What do you think is the relationship between different kinds of “life-writing”: diaries, memoirs, letters, autobiography, biography?
  • Could you have a biography of a river, or a city, or a disease?
  • Do you think men’s and women’s lives have been written about in different ways, and if so, why?
  • Review


    "Distinguished writer, reviewer, and biographer Lee...details the biography as an autopsy, a posthumous exercise in scrutiny, and a portrait that captures characterization, referencing many works of classic British biography to show the changes in the writing form from the Victorian era through the golden ages and modern times...Students of biography and writing will appreciate the broad overview packed into this succinct work." --Library Journal



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    Customer Reviews

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    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on November 2, 2009
    Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
    Biography is a story of someone's life, and biographies have been written for as long as people had been interested in lives of others. This very short introduction takes us on a trip throughout centuries at exploring the genre, it's ever evolving conventions and the basic requirements that we expect from all good biographies. The main focus of the book is the British biographies, with a few others used as examples. There are no biographical examples from non-western sources, unless you count those from the Bible. Nonetheless, even with these constraints we get to see a vast variety of approaches to biography. Some biographers had intimate first-hand knowledge of their subject, while other wrote from a vast spatial and temporal distance, relying solely on secondhand sources. Another big difference that biography as a genre has undergone is the change of mores that nowadays puts a stronger stress on disreputable and salacious aspects of one's life. This is a far cry from "exemplary lives" model that had been popular in the past, which had presupposed the purpose of biography to be enlightenment and edification of the public.

    Reading about biography in abstract can be rather boring. Luckily, this book is replete with examples from various notable biographies. However, if you are not interested in biography as a genre you may not get too much out of reading this book.
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    4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael Czobit on September 22, 2013
    Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
    Interesting thoughts on the art of biography. I also recommend tracking down Lee's Paris Review interview on the same subject.
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    0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John R on September 22, 2014
    Format: Paperback
    The book was okay.
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    1 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Teacher of Teachers on December 16, 2009
    Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
    These books are quite useful, and this one is recommended for anyone who enjoys biographies and would like to learn a bit about biography in general.
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